Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Facilitate … using a freehand Wordle

You have likely created Wordles online!  Now, use a freehand version as a fun and meaningful facilitation technique. Recently, I facilitated a one-hour session with a healthy community coalition to gain input about social, cultural, economic, and leisure aspects of a community. I asked them to identify the successes and challenges in their community related to these aspects. They did so; by moving to two flipchart stations and writing and talking and listening about the various ideas. I then facilitated a discussion with the entire group, asking them to say what comments and ideas stood out for them, what they were pleased to hear and read, and what concerned them.

Next, I asked participants to think about an upcoming workshop about community resiliency which they were all attending. I asked them to identify the one or two key aspects from the first activity that they would “take with them” into the workshop. What would they concentrate upon? What would they think about during the workshop? Then, I asked them to create their answers as a freehand Wordle.

Wordle is “a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.http://www.wordle.net/ A Wordle is a visual representation for text data, typically used to depict the most prominent terms and ideas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_cloud

I asked participants to draw a Wordle, making their main idea as the biggest word and then writing other ideas in other sizes and directions. They had fun and also focussed on their main ideas.

The freehand Wordle allowed a different way of thinking, incorporated visual and kinesthetic learning modes, and added fun to the discussion. It’s a  quick and good way to adapt technology as a facilitation tool.

Here are two pictures: one of a Wordle related to community development and one of my freehand community topics from the session.
Computer-generated Wordle

Freehand Wordle